John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mary McCormack and Mikael Hafstrom Interviewed – 1408

     June 11, 2007

When you do a lot of interviews you know what to expect. For the most part roundtables are always better than a press conference because you get to ask more questions and it’s a bit more personal. And while I was dreading the huge press conference for “1408,” thankfully the people asked decent questions.

Of course I wanted to ask Lorenzo di Bonaventura about “G.I. Joe” and Sam Jackson about “The Spirit,” unfortunately the room was absolutely packed with people and trying to get a question in was almost like winning the lottery. But I’m interviewing Lorenzo again this weekend for “Transformers” so you can expect some answers soon.

So why were all these people doing a press conference?

It was for the newest Stephen King short story to be adapted into a feature film -“1408.” Here is the synopsis:

Renowned horror novelist Mike Enslin (Cusack) only believes what he can see with his own two eyes. After a string of bestsellers discrediting paranormal events in the most infamous haunted houses and graveyards around the world, he scoffs at the concept of an afterlife. Enslin’s phantom-free run of long and lonely nights is about to change forever when he checks into suite 1408 of the notorious Dolphin Hotel for his latest project, Ten Nights in Haunted Hotel Rooms. Defying the warnings of the hotel manager (Jackson), the author is the first person in years to stay in the reputedly haunted room. Another bestseller may be imminent, but like all Stephen King heroes, Enslin must go from skeptic to true believer and ultimately survive the night.

Before getting to the press conference you can watch some recently posted clips from the movie on here.

As always, you can listen to the press conference by downloading the MP3 here.

For the most part I think reading a transcript does an interview justice, but this is one I would rather listen to. The back and forth talking is very fast and both Sam and John are pretty funny. It’s much better to hear the audio on this one.

“1408” opens on June 22nd.

John and Sam, we’ve read so much about overseas grosses being 60% of a movie now, does that influence what kind of projects you choose?

John Cusack: I just wanted to be on a poster with Sam Jackson so…

Sam Jackson: I just go to work. I never think about where I’m going to sell it. That’s not my problem. No. Not a consideration at all. You always figure they’re going to go over there anyway. There’s somebody else to make them sell.

Sam, I like the part where you call it an evil fucking room. Ever want to call it an evil mother fucking room?

Sam Jackson: No, it never occurred to me. No, not at all.

John Cusack: I was actually pissed off by that because it’s PG-13, and I was getting tortured in this room for 15 weeks, and you’re being tortured and all you want to do is just swear. You want to go — Fuck! Shit! But you can’t . . because Sam got the one fuck that we could use.

For each of you, what was your scariest hotel room experience?

Sam Jackson: I can’t remember

Or just a bad check in experience?

Sam Jackson: Oh, I don’t know if it’s bad, but I guess the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me checking into what’s called a hotel — last year, we went to a game preserve in South Africa, and when we checked in the guy didn’t ask for a credit card, he asked us to sign a release. Yeah . . . that’s very bad… walking from here to my room there are things that can happen. And they didn’t even have cats.

John Cusack: Besides normal like jet lag when you wake in Dusseldorf and you have no idea what country you’re or what room you’re in, which has happened to me before, I was also in a game reserve in South Africa and they said we got to make sure you go back at night with a guard. Because some woman had had dinner and she had taken her high heels off and went to change her shoes and tried to walk back to her cottage, and she got eaten.. . . that’s where the animals live, so it’s pretty real.

Mary McCormack: I’ve been to a game reserve in South Africa last year, and nothing scary happened. I didn’t know about that. I walked to my room with no shoes on. I wish I’d known.

Mikael Håfström: I couldn’t afford to stay in nice hotels until I became a Hollywood director. I like this place — Four Seasons. No, I don’t have any — I think John and me were slightly going insane in our fictional hotel room, 1408. I think basically that’s the scariest hotel room I’ve been to.

Sam Jackson: You were a European teenager. Come on, you’ve traveled around and stayed in some of those two-dollar-a night places when you were like . . .

Mikael Håfström: That was scary. Absolutely

John Cusack: I actually stayed in the old — actually, I do have an anecdote, which I never do, so I’m going to tell you. I did a movie in upstate New York, and there was this very very scary old hotel, and I found that was what Stephen King based The Shining on. It was this big hotel and it was supposed to be haunted. And we were staying out there and walking back at night after one too many cocktails, and it was a little frightening there. And I can’t remember the name . . . but it was based on The Shining and it was a scary place. Not a very good anecdote.

John do you have any experience surfing?

John Cusack: Experience surfing? Yeah, I’ve actually done a little bit, but I’m not a big surfer. Water’s kinda scary, especially those big waves. I actually have friends who do it, and I go out with them. I’m not a big surfer.

John, can you talk about the challenge of acting alone.

John Cusack: Well, I think Mikael and I, we sort of had a Stockholm syndrome where the room was keeping us captive, but as soon as we got out of the room and got to work with Mary and Sam and stuff — it was kind of strange, and you went to . . . the lobby and there were all these extras, and then you’d go out to Venice Beach and there were these surfers and things. We just thought: we gotta get back in the room, get back to the room where it’s safe and horrible. And it’s me staring at the walls and I get tortured. That made more sense than dealing with people after a while.

Sam Jackson: Than those of us who had to deal with you guys.

John Cusack: That’s true.

Mary McCormack: Put him in the room.

Sam Jackson: No, get him out of the room

Mary McCormack: Oh, I see.

John Cusack: But it was pretty fun actually. I thought the piece was very ambitious that way because you didn’t know if you could pull it off. You knew it would be interesting when these guys came back into the film were in and out of the film. But how do you pull off that kind of dance just in a room with the DP, the director, the actor and anything you can think of? It’s kind of ambitious to try and pull it off. It was kind of catch and go in the morning because you couldn’t rely on these guys.

When did all of you first encounter Stephen King and have you been long time fans?

Mikael Håfström: I think my first encounter with Stephen King film-wise was watching Brian De Palma’s Carrie back in the day. I think Carrie was one of the first films that were made of Stephen King. This was in the mid Seventies, 1976 I think Carrie came out, and I got really obsessed by that film and I liked it a lot and I started to watch Brian De Palma films. But I also started to read a little bit of King’s work. I have read some, I haven’t read everything. I think King’s genius is in short stories, which is a very tough literary genre to pull off, but I think he’s a great master in this contained way. 1408 — it’s what? Forty pages long or something, but it really tells — if you read it right, you get a lot of the information there, and obviously our film is longer. Our film had more material than is in the short story, but I feel very much that we are very true to the heart and soul of the short story and I feel like Enslin’s character is the guy that Stephen King writes about in the short story, even if we trade a more ambitious back story and so on. So it started with Carrie and I haven’t read everything, I think that nobody has read everything Stephen King wrote, because it’s so much, but I read a lot of his short stories. I think they are great.

John Cusack: My parents took us to Boston — Nantucket, right? — it was 1978 . . . to visit some cousins, That was about 1979 or 80, and The Shining had come out, and it was already sort of was a classic, it was in all the revival houses, and I snuck in to the theatre around six o’clock because it was an R movie, and I had to walk back to this cottage where we were staying. And when I got out it was night, and it was a pretty winding road with lamps?? And stuff. That was the scariest walk home I’ve ever taken after a movie. I saw The Shining when I was about 12 years old and that freaked me out.

Mary McCormack: Alone?

John Cusack: Alone. I snuck in alone and I had to walk home about 20 minutes by myself.

Sam Jackson: Hey

John Cusack: And I saw Jack Nicholson around the corner in every bush . . . That was my first entry into Stephen King. Then I saw Carrie as I got older, read The Stand in about one sitting for a whole night, I couldn’t put it down, so — I think he’s very underrated as writer. Also his sense of character — he writes terrific characters. Somebody told me he uses a lot of pop culture references. He doesn’t say, “The man poured the detergent into the laundry.” He says, “He poured the Tide into the laundry.” Everyone sort of dismisses him as not the literary talent he is because he’s so pop culture, but I think he’s pretty damn good.

Mikael Håfström: Misery was a film that I watched a few times when we started to work with this, because the connection with Misery is that it has such a contained arena. It’s just his bedroom and I knew we had to do this film in this hotel room, so watching Misery was a good thing to do. Obviously you get stressed out — how do you make this alive and kicking in one room for the most part of the film, and Misery is probably the film I connected most to of all the Stephen King films that I’ve seen in this case.

John Cusack: Carrie’s a really tense film too.

Sam Jackson: Well, Duel was too for a television thing. That was my first thing —

John Cusack: Duel by Steven Spielberg?

Sam Jackson: Yeah. It was a short story.

Do you believe in the supernatural?

Sam Jackson: I grew up in Tennessee around people who believe all kinds of things. I was told ghost stories at night by my grandfather and his brothers. And there were people in my neighborhood that, I guess the one lady in my neighborhood because I grew up in the segregated South so sometimes when we got hurt or sick or whatever, we couldn’t afford to go to the doctor or even go to the hospital because we figured they weren’t going to see us anyway. So they called what was known in our neighborhood as the ‘root lady’ who would actually come over and she’d put very stinky stuff on you and chant, good stuff. And you would get well. She would take herbs and things and we bought chickens, we didn’t buy chickens from the store, we bought chickens off a truck, they were live chickens and we killed them. She got the heads and feet. She did stuff with them. And there were people who died in our neighborhood that we saw long after they were dead. If you were out at night and looking around the wrong place, doing something wrong and you’d look up and there would be that lady who used to call your house and tell your mother you were doing something wrong. You’d be like, ‘she’s dead. She’s not supposed to be here and she is’. And you weren’t the only person that saw her. It was kind of like we had phenomenon like that, that went on throughout my life. We’ve gone through interesting things. People would tell you stories about places you could go, there was a school bus that turned over in this particular place and if you go there at a certain time of night you can hear the kids crying and hear the screeches of the tires. And we’d go there and, sure enough, you’d hear it. So there are lots of things that we can’t explain that somebody somewhere has seen these things and they write about them. Some people remember them vividly enough to write about them. Some people make them up. But there are lots and lots of things that we can’t explain that are just part of our culture.

Does that make you fearless?

Sam Jackson: Fearless? No. No. I’m quite the opposite of fearless. Well, yeah, I’m the guy that sits in the horror movie and says ‘don’t go in the dark room. You’re safe in this particular place right here, stay there until it gets light and call somebody or do something, but don’t go in the dark room. Don’t go down the stairs. Don’t go see what the noise is’. Even in my house, if I’m at home by myself in my house here in Beverly Hills, my house is big enough that if I hear something down the hall, I’ll just stay in my room and go, well…I’ll go turn the alarm on and if something happens then the alarm will go off but I’m not going to go down the hall to see if something’s not right. I’m not that interested.

You’re not the heroic type?

Sam Jackson: I got a gun, too. I will take the gun out and I’ll put the gun on the bed and I’ll sit there and if somebody comes in the room that’s not supposed to be in the house, I’ll just start shooting.

John Cusack: I shouldn’t drop by your house late at night.

Sam Jackson: Not unannounced. No.

John Cusack: Sam? [he knocks on the table]

Sam Jackson: You could. As long as you’re doing that, you’re okay. But don’t just pop in the room ‘the door was open.’ It was not.

What would you do in the middle of the night if you heard somebody in your house?

Sam Jackson: He takes fight lessons. He wants to test his skills.

John Cusack: I wouldn’t. The cool thing about this movie is the thing where you say don’t go in the room that happens at about minute 16. And then we go for another hour and then we see if we can top it or see if we can sustain that kind of thing.

Sam Jackson: I’m always afraid that once you go in there you end up doing what you did, the key gets sucked in the lock, doorknob breaks off, and you can’t get out. And then it’s like, ‘damn, I’m in here with it. Why? I never had to go in here in the beginning’.

Mary McCormack: There’s still a lot of don’t go in the room in that room. Like don’t go in that vent.

Sam Jackson: Yeah. Oh yeah, yeah.

John Cusack: Don’t go in that vent.

Mary McCormack: Don’t go in that vent. Don’t lift the shower curtain.

John Cusack: Don’t go in the bathroom.

Mary McCormack: Don’t.

John Cusack: Yeah. Don’t turn that corner.

Sam Jackson: Don’t go out the window.

John Cusack: Don’t go out the window. I’m pretty lucky. The only times I’ve had kind of weird paranormal events, the only times I’ve had them, I had a couple of times where I thought things had moved and I don’t think it was…whatever it was, it wasn’t a bad spirit because I’ve never really been in the presence of I don’t think anything truly evil that I couldn’t explain.

Were you in a heightened state when you experienced this?

John Cusack: No. No. Not even alcohol.

Sam Jackson: It’s not necessarily evil either. I remember doing a movie and just being freaked out because I was in New Mexico and we shot in Alamogordo and when we finished we had to go back to Santa Fe and for some strange reason I drove myself from Santa Fe to Alamogordo and when we were going back I was in my car alone because nobody wanted to ride back with me. So I’m on a lonely New Mexico highway that’s just straight just saying to myself ‘please let nothing show up in the sky and beam me up’. Because the hope that, it’s New Mexico and you’re always seeing shit that’s in the sky, like zzz, zzz, zzz, stop! And ‘zzz, zzz’ and boom you’re gone. What was that? All I could say was please let nothing pull in front of my car and just hover. Let me get back to Santa Fe, please!

Have you ever been treated by the root lady?

John Cusack: No. I actually have met a couple of women like that, actually.

Like what?

John Cusack: In New Orleans people do voodoo and rituals. They said it was for good, but they weren’t dark.

Did they kill a chicken?

John Cusack: I haven’t seen that but they pulled out all sorts of things and…

Sam Jackson: Some bones and…

John Cusack: They had a lot of elixirs and potions. I’ve been researching a movie about Edgar Cayce so I’m interested in all types of, I’m interested in the hustlers, the real deals, the conmen. I’m just interested in all of it. So I have seen people like that.

The real horror of this film for me was the loss of your daughter. I think you also have a film coming out where you lose your wife. Is that just not an awful lot of darkness over a short period of time?

John Cusack: Yeah. Yeah. It’s something you do.

Is life just too sunny?

John Cusack: Well, one of them is about the Iraq War so I think that’s a perfectly reasonable response to the war we’re in here. And this one was, this is just a nice one because a lot of times when things have worked out for me in my career it’s because there were really smart people who came by and said you should do this. And then there were people like Lorenzo and Mikael around here who said, oh yeah, we’re going to do this and you’re going to do this and then we’re going to get Sam Jackson and Mary and then all of sudden it’s there for you. So this was just kind of blind luck to be able to get invited into this crew. To do this film. But the one about Iraq is about this country and people going through shattering grief so it seemed appropriate to make a movie about the times you live in once and a while.

That was your gross point blank screenwriter?

John Cusack: No, that’s another one I did, which is also about Iraq. So there’s actually more grief. But that was funny. That one’s actually funny. We’re trying to live up to the Paddy Chayefsky, ‘Strange Love’ of it all.

Is it true that you put Hilary Duff in one?

John Cusack: Hilary Duff is in the script we did called ‘Brand Hauser’ which is about Iraq and she’s great.

Why did you want her in it?

John Cusack: Well, because there’s a role with a very slutty pop, Eurasian pop star and so the idea of Hilary who’s so classy and kind of wholesome doing that was pretty funny. There’s a real kind of a lascivious young pop star who wants to be like one of these girls that I don’t need to mention.

You were just mentioning things that go in the night and flying in the night. Aren’t you doing a sci-fi Jumper? You’re got a slew of movies coming out.

Sam Jackson: Really?

Do you like to make movies to explore those kinds of things or is it just a script that comes along?

Sam Jackson: It’s always a movie that interests me or a story I want to tell or something that I saw when I was growing up that made me excited and all of a sudden I can do it. I don’t have to go home and describe it for my friends and I’m actually in something where people teleport and it’s kind of like great. Okay. And I get to chase them. Yeah. Okay. I can’t do it but I can chase them. And then when I catch them I get to beat them up and kill them. Kind of cool.

Do you get to box for the Rod Lurie movie?

Sam Jackson: This boxer is in his 60’s. He’s old, but he still fights because kids come to the alley and these kind of bad kids pick on him and they want to make him fight and so he kind of, they kind of bum fight him, beat him up.

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I know at one point after Cabin fever Eli Roth was attached to this, what happened with his involvement and also what is your dialogue like with Stephen King?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Well, Eli was attracted to it right away. Eli’s take we could not set up anywhere and so he fell out and it was a little while later that Dimension bought the rights to the short story and Greenberg came in and Scott and Larry followed them then Mikael.

What was Eli’s take?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: it’s too bloody to say it out loud. It was madness, an entirely different movie actually. He has such a love of the most bloody parts of the genre that I think it scared everybody at the time. To go through some kind of transition like that, what’s very fortunate about it is some of the most interesting aspects of the story which is mental disintegration as opposed to any sort of physical degradation going on, we thought that Mikael and John the writers could bring to the table on that.

What about Stephen King?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: Stephen pretty much lets the filmmakers make their decisions. He’s not a guy who is looking over your shoulder constantly. He’s very clear that there’s a difference between the written medium and the movie medium. As such, a lot of novelists don’t understand that. And, that’s why you get in trouble trying to adapt things. What’s great is he completely got that and we were able to show him the movie three or four weeks ago and, fortunately, it lived up to the short story for him.

John Cusack: There is something about his stories that are so rich that I think he gets really undervalued as a writer, like I said because we were going through the script and we’d get in a room and there’d be a certain kind of logic that you have to play out and you have to kind of keep going. And so we kept going back to this 30-page short story just to see what did he write? And there was always stuff we could pull from, just little details or lines or turns of phrases or descriptions. It was amazing. It was like this 30-page piece that was like a bottomless well of stuff.

What is Olin?

John Cusack: The guy’s think Olin’s evil and the girls think he’s not, which is interesting. All the girls I’ve talked to said, ‘no he’s a good guy. He’s trying to help you out.’ And the guys are like, ‘no he isn’t. He’s the crypt keeper. He’s the one who set you up for all this.’

Sam Jackson: Hopefully, I can be the cryptkeeper for the next three incarnations of this film. ‘1408 Returns.’

Mary McCormack: ‘1409.’ ‘1410.’

Sam Jackson: Yeah. That’s right. ‘1408 Junior.’ Junior suite.

You’re a mom with a couple of daughters.

Mary McCormack: I am.

Did that make it harder to imagine a dying child?

Mary McCormack: At the time I had one, so it was easy. No. Two ups it. No. My second one is this big but she was not around then. My first was. And yeah it’s hard but helps I think. I mean I think every actor uses their life and their relationships and to sort of act as their emotional life and so yeah.

Did you go home and hug your daughter?

Mary McCormack: A lot. But at work she died a horrible death.

I was wondering about your take on how almost comparatively elegant, quant, I don’t know what words to use for a traditional kind of scary horror movie these days in this world of torture porn and all that graphic stuff?

Sam Jackson: Torture porn? Really? I want to see it now! Is that like Asian cinema or something? What is it? Asian extreme, gonzo? What is it? Who’s making that?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: I hesitate to put any genre into any sort of a box, and I think what this movie does versus what Eli has done in those movies is two totally different experiences. I hope that the genre is big enough to do all of that, and that’s when you have to, you always want the fans to show up on opening weekend, but this movie is trying to go beyond a call to the extreme, to elicit a reaction. It’s going towards the subtle or the nuance or the emotional and we need the audience to come and support us in doing that; and that’s the only way we’re going to decide how wide and how broad the genre is if the audience keeps showing up. That’s going to be our challenge. It’s funny, some people have talked to us and said that this isn’t as scary as that or that isn’t as smart as this and they’re really in a way two entirely different movies. And so I look at them as the exist in two different worlds as opposed to living in the horror genre.

Sam Jackson: Cause is The Eye torture porn? No? What’s torture porn, Hostel? This new one, Capture?

Takashi Miike type stuff.

Sam Jackson: Oh, yeah! Yeah, Ichi the Killer? Oh yeah. Ôdishon, is Ôdishon torture porn?


Sam Jackson: I love Ôdishon; that’s an awesome movie. It’s a good date movie! It’s a movie who hasn’t had a date in a years and makes a bad choice.

John Cusack: What’s is the Danish director who did the movie about the two guys who combine the –

Funny Games?

John Cusack: Funny Games, right? Michael Haneke. But Haneke is gory, but it wasn’t gory until the very end, so what made that movie so terrifying was the tension that it kept up and created the whole time. I think if you do a movie like this and you do it with the guy you’re talking about, I don’t know if it becomes as interesting because where do you go after the first 25 minutes of blood, guts and gore? I don’t know how you sustain tension that way.

Sam Jackson: Ôdishon is like that; nothing happens really until the end, and then it’s kind of like, ‘damn.’

John Cusack: And this has its share, we’ve seen this with an audience and they go, they jump too. So it’s really two different deals.

Sam Jackson: Every generation jumps for different reasons; people used to jump for Vincent Price, now they’re jumping for different shit.

Like the tingler.

Sam Jackson: I remember that under your seat, trying to make you think something was there. Or like the ghosts on haunted hill when they ran them on wires in the theater, you were like, ‘Awwwww, common!’ But then, it was innovative and awesome, and common…kids are so movie savvy now. The thought that 15 years ago, people were making snuff films, people were like, ‘oooh, ahhhh’ and now we’re watching them – you go to the movies and watch them. Kids are special effects savvy; they’re making their own slasher films in what, sixth grade on Photofinish, or whatever.

John, are you going to make a cameo on Entourage?

John Cusack: I haven’t gotten around to that.

Sam Jackson: He was in Smokin’ Aces.

John Cusack: No I wasn’t.

Sam Jackson: Yes you were.

John Cusack: Ok, sure. I’ve been gone; I went out of the country working on this and other things so I haven’t been around. But sure, why not.

John, what were the challenges for this role?

John Cusack: I think once we – it was a relief to do scenes with these two (points to Mary and Sam) but after a while when you’re in the third act and you’re trying to keep trying to top or keep the tension or keep the stakes raising, it required a lot of wattage, I guess, cause you had to keep putting out. So Lorenzo and Mikael and I would really try and figure out the logic of the inside of the room, and once you figured it out, you actually do it with no one to cut away to. That was a challenge. And then doing the end, it really kind of let it, going along with the dare, the room setting – you’re going to find what you’re bringing with you. You’re going to go through nine circles of hell, but each one of them is going to have a piece of your life and your past, and you’re going to have to confront your demons in it. So by the end of the movie, you sort of knew they were going to bring Katie back, the daughter back – and it was, ‘Are we going to go here? Are we going to go this dark?’ And we sort of had to, but that was kind of dark, that was a dark place to go – when you saw that little girl walking on the broken glass; that wasn’t a fun day on set. It’s all pretend and we’re just making a movie, but it’s still – that was challenging.

How would you describe the line of ‘men like him and women like him’ talking about you?

Sam Jackson: I guess that means we’re ok with the human race.

John Cusack: They got the demographic.

Sam Jackson: I don’t know, really? People do studies about stuff like that?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: (shakes head) Oh yeah.

Sam Jackson: Really, that’s bizarre. I just assumed people like me because they come see your movies or they don’t or they won’t come and see them. I don’t know how you classify that. I just think when you approach the work honestly, and people appreciate what you do and the sincerity and the effort that you put into giving them something that’s real and not acting down. I try not to act down to people, I just try and act as normal as I can. When audiences have an opportunity to see the things you’re doing that makes sense to them, or they see things that make sense to who the human beings are or people that they know who act that way. And they appreciate it in another kind of way and I appreciate you as an actor for being honest with them.

So you don’t see it that way?

Sam Jackson: So I don’t see it what way?

They way you see it, you just see it the way you see it.

Sam Jackson: I know what I want to see if I’m an audience member, so I read scripts as an audience member, number one. I always see a script and say, ‘Do I want to see this?’ Or number one, ‘Would I pay my money to go see this?’ Then, ‘Would I pay my money to see it with me in it?’ And if the answer is yes, then I do it. So I approach things as an audience member; my wife says that to me all the time that I have a bad habit of watching myself do something. She used to claim I was a bloodless actor cause I would stand there and do stuff on stage and I would kind of look at the audience and see how they were reacting, cause I wanted to see what I thought I was doing. But, I still tend to think of myself as an audience member, so when I’m doing something, if I do go to the monitor and look at it, I look at it like I paid my money to see it. And do I believe that and does that fit in with what I’m trying to do in terms of the context of the film, and am I happy with it. But most times, I don’t even go to the monitor; you can offer it to me, but I’ll usually wait and watch the movie.

What wouldn’t we want to see you in?

Sam Jackson: A dress.

John Cusack: You’ve got Rudy Giuliani; that’s the Giuliani thing.

John, are you still attached to Cosmic Banditos and the remake of Better Off Dead?

John Cusack: Yes, no. Cosmic Banditos is something we’re developing, although John From Cincinnati seems to have stolen our thunder – it looks like that way. All these scripts are floating around and then it ends up on HBO, so that’s the show when you develop something. And I heard about that (Better Off Dead), but I don’t know anything about it.

John, what about the ‘women like him, men like him’ thing?

John Cusack: Sure, I think people respond to – kind of echoing what Sam said is they respond to something personal about you. So I don’t know if there’s another actor who reminds me of Sam or another actress who reminds me of Mary, so you don’t have to play the same character all the time, but if you access something about yourself that you think is true, you’re not trying to be someone else and you’re not trying to be some cookie cutter version of someone else and people respond to it. That’s probably it, or maybe its women and men like you if –

Sam Jackson: You’re not too cute and you’re not too ugly

John Cusack: Not too cute and not too ugly.

Sam Jackson: Not too threatening

John Cusack: If you’re really too good looking, guys won’t like you cause the girls are going to –

Sam Jackson: Wow, he’s like an ordinary guy.

John Cusack: Yeah, you have to be perfectly average.

Sam Jackson: Interestingly enough, yeah.

Can you talk about the Paris Hilton situation?

Sam Jackson: What?

John Cusack: Yeah, I’ll talk about it. I think all heiresses should be put in prison on general principle.

Sam Jackson: Oh….not my daughter, no. My daughter’s an accidental heir, it’s only because of what I’ve done.

John Cusack: No, no, no; I’m talking about old money.

Sam Jackson: Oh, old money, alright.

John Cusack: I’m Irish-American, so I’m anti-royalist. I intransigently don’t trust the monarchy, so any heiress should have to do prison time – mandatory prison time.

Sam Jackson: This story is way bigger than it needs to be, really, for real. That’s just the truth; just way bigger than it needs to be.

John Cusack: It’s only sad in the context of that it’s taking up – to me, I’ll tell you, fuck. It’s sad to me cause it’s taking up air time when habeas corpus is suspended and no one else is doing anything about it.

Mary McCormack: And Scooter Libby was just sent to jail.

John Cusack: Habeas corpus, it’s the foundation of our structure, right. You have to face your accuser on all your rights and all your rights stem from that, right? The Bush administration is taking away habeas corpus and people are talking about Paris Hilton – that’s America.

Do you think Paris and Scooter should be chained together?

Mary McCormack: That’d make a cute couple – now there’s a reality show.

Sam Jackson: Yeah.

Mary McCormack: Nicole Richie’s out of luck. That’d be a real punishment.

John Cusack: That is a fascinating and grotesque story, isn’t it.

Mary McCormack: Just because it happened the same day, they were both arraigned on the same day.

John Cusack: They were both? Another one was arraigned?

Mary McCormack: No, I just mean Scooter –

Sam Jackson: No, Scooter and Paris.

What’s an inner demon that each of you have that you’d be terrified to come out in that room?

Mary McCormack: I’m a classic girl, I can’t do bugs, no bugs for me. I mean, real demons are much bigger, sadder things like family safety and all that. But in terms of just shallow demons, it’s bugs for me – no bugs, no bats.

John Cusack: Yeah, shallow demons would be rats; big demons – but it hasn’t happened to me – but if I was responsible for someone else’s death and if something like that would have happened and I’d be haunted by that person, that would be my worst fear. If I did something to someone, that would be the worst thing that I’d be responsible for death. And on a shallow level, just rats – I hate ‘em.

Sam Jackson: Um…

Lorenzo di Bonaventura: It’s not snakes…

Sam Jackson: Not working –

John Cusack: You won’t have that problem.

Sam Jackson: The phone stops ringing, ‘damn.’ And on a really deeper level, getting older is one of those things that – there are certain things I used to know, and I don’t know anymore and I’m disturbed by that cause Alzheimer’s runs in my family and when I walk in a room and I don’t know why I walked in there – it’s really starting to fuck with me. So I’m having that issue, but I’m doing more crossword puzzles.

But you have a gun.

Sam Jackson: Yeah, exactly. I’ve got a gun, so I don’t worry about it.

Mikael Håfström: I don’t know, I couldn’t even tell you, this is a PG-13 film. But I think the question sums up something quite interesting – that’s what 1408 is about. It’s a personal journey and you walk in the room with you or you or even you (points to people in the room), you will have a totally different story; and I think that’s what he talked a lot about and I think that’s a lot about the room. And also that’s exactly what the question was – if I had been in 1408, what would be the demons I would have to stand up to them. And we all have them, and sometimes in life we have to approach these demons and take another step in life, or whatever, it’s a private thing to me, personally. The way I saw the room, that’s what it’s about or not – it could be very real.

Mikael, what’s it like going Hollywood?

Sam Jackson: Woahhhhh.

Are you going to do more movies here?

Mikael Håfström: Well, the weather is much better here, which is not a bad thing. I think the good thing for me is having that possibility that I can choose what I did for a profession. Sweden is a small country and I have been working there, and there have been ups and downs; I had the fortune of doing a couple films in this country. And I had stopped planning anything a long time ago, because life takes you places; being here, working with these people – it’s an amazing adventure for me, obviously. That’s what’s next, I honestly don’t know. I’m sure something will transpire. But yeah, it’s about material, it’s about finding the right material, obviously, and the right people – Sweden, here, wherever, let’s see what happens.

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